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New IP Act encourages industrial designers

27 May 2014

The Intellectual Property Act received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and will come into force between October 2014 and late 2015. The Act aims to better protect UK business’s IP rights in the UK and abroad. It requires the Secretary of State to make an annual report to Parliament reviewing the contribution of the IPO to the promotion of innovation and economic growth.

IPO guides and government explanatory notes give more information about the scope of the Act which enables the UK to sign the 2013 Brussels Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. The Act makes extensive changes to designs law. Dramatically, it introduces criminal sanctions for intentional copying of registered designs as well as giving designers similar protection to the owners of copyright, thereby harmonising designs law more closely with Europe. The Patent Office opinion service is expanded to include designs as well as more patent related matters. There are further provisions intended to enable research to remain confidential.

Extending criminal sanctions gives more power to prevent counterfeiting but prosecuting authorities don’t have the resources to investigate and the new powers may not be used effectively.

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